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Landscaping Boulder Bay, Canterbury, New Zealand: The emergent and contested classification of authentic heritage baches and an endangered species of penguin

Foster, Roland James Suddard
Fields of Research
ANZSRC::160403 Social and Cultural Geography , ANZSRC::210202 Heritage and Cultural Conservation , ANZSRC::160402 Recreation, Leisure and Tourism Geography , ANZSRC::060301 Animal Systematics and Taxonomy , ANZSRC::120504 Land Use and Environmental Planning , ANZSRC::160808 Sociology and Social Studies of Science and Technology
In a world that is continually ‘coming-into-being’, particular landscapes become sites of contest when inhabitants seek to hold on to certain configurations or re-shape them. Depending on whether they are constitutive of identity, cease to properly reflect an idealised past, or are being managed inconsistently with a particular conception of the future, certain landscapes highlight the issues of whose heritage is recognised and protected, and how those classifications are achieved. This is especially the case when putatively natural and vernacular cultural heritages are at stake. This thesis combines a post-phenomenological understanding of ‘more-than-human’ landscapes that are always in process with a material semiotic approach that follows the actors involved in a proposal to develop (or resist), on publically owned land, an ecotourism project designed to protect an endangered species of penguin (Eudyptula albosignata). The proposal would also displace a number of small holiday cottages (known as baches, and increasingly seen as part of New Zealanders’ national identity) that have shared this stretch of coastline with the penguins, since, at least, 1882. The thesis uses multi-sited participant observation, the analysis of documents and interviews to focus on how ontological questions about what a species, or bach, is emerge in the ineluctably political practices of classification. It also looks at how conferring of the status of authenticity becomes central to the processes of designating endangered or heritage status. These questions and their various and often conflicting answers are, in turn, deployed by rival actor-networks in an attempt to exert power over the future shape of the landscape. This research proposes that a symmetrical focus on the practices of taxonomy of both species and vernacular cultural heritage helps reveal how the micro-politics of landscape change, or apparent stasis, draws on a global network of actors. It also highlights the development of a potentially new species concept known as the Ecotourism Species Concept. The thesis thus contributes to debates in human geography about biodiversity, nature and heritage landscape conservation.
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